Late last year, we teamed up with Houston Habitat for Humanity as sponsors for one of their veteran home builds. Their Veterans Build program helps qualified veterans get into a home of their own. And it brings community members together as volunteers during the construction process.
Steadily over the last few months, thanks to the efforts of dozens of volunteers and groups, the home we helped sponsor has come together and is almost ready for a deserving Houston veteran to move into.
A few weeks ago, the Women Marines Association TX-7 Opha May Johnson Chapter (WMA) showed up with 10 volunteers on their designated build day. The group did just as much work, if not more, than some larger groups with as many as 25 volunteers, according to David Soto from Houston Habitat for Humanity.
For this latest build, Soto said they had to follow relatively new COVID-19 safety protocols. They wore masks, had their temperatures checked and even used on-site hand washing stations to keep the job site safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The WMA, which began a little over two years ago, has 16 members, and they make time to volunteer on a number of important projects each year. That includes surprising veterans with gift bags at senior living facilities or the VA, supporting local Junior ROTC programs and providing meals for veterans enrolled in a PTSD treatment facility. And as if that’s not enough, they managed to frame all the walls at this Veterans Build home on their volunteer day.
Audrea Killalea, chapter president of WMA, compared the framework’s construction to becoming a U.S. Marine. It takes months, and even years, to build the framework—the discipline, honor and traditions—of a Marine, she said.
“When they earn the title U.S. Marine, they will carry it with them forever,” Killalea said. “We hope that the house we worked on that day has the same legacy of strength and endurance as the Marines in our WMA TX7 Chapter.”
The group brought a special gift to the build, too, an American flag that was presented to a Partner Builder couple who were also volunteering that day—a gift for their future home. A Partner Builder is a Habitat for Humanity candidate who contributes sweat equity for the organization, a requirement for future home recipients.
Heather Brodersen, vice president of the WMA chapter, said there were many heartwarming moments during the day but that this was the highlight for her. She said the couple worked hard and were deeply touched by the gift.
And that wasn’t the only gift received that day. We surprised the group with a donation to support TX-7’s own projects, too.
“Tears began to flow, and I had goosebumps,” Brodersen exclaimed, adding that the donation will be used to help set up a crisis fund for veterans in need, a project the chapter has been wanting to implement for some time.
All of us here at Veteran Energy are so appreciative of Houston Habitat for Humanity and the Women Marines Association, and we’re excited to see all the amazing ways they continue to Support Our Heroes.